Intermediate Conversational Chinese Lesson 1 - How Should I Address You?

In this lesson, you will learn how to answer questions like "What is your name?" and a special Chinese way of talking about last names/family names. For more visit YoYo Chinese

Comment by Karl Kauffman on July 17, 2014 at 12:02pm
I studied Chinese over 30 years ago, and back then, my text read bi Xing Liu (比姓劉) as a response to Nin GUI Xing (您貴姓)。 Can the Bi form of a humble response still be used, or is it considered old-fashioned?

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Comment by Thomas Doherty on July 17, 2014 at 1:34pm

比姓劉 ( bǐ xìng liú ) [ which I am not sure how to translate ] could be short for
比较少姓劉 ( bǐjiào shǎo xìng liú ) Lesser surname Liu     OR
比较姓劉 ( bǐjiào xìng liú )  Compare surname Liu [??] .

Comment by Karl Kauffman on July 17, 2014 at 3:02pm
Thank you, Thomas. I learned the phrase, Bi Xing Liu, in my beginners' text, which was all romanized, and the translation was something like "my humble (or low) family name is Liu. Probably, the "bi" character should be 鄙 instead of 比.

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Comment by Thomas Doherty on July 18, 2014 at 3:03am

Yes, I see that  鄙  ( Bǐ )  means rustic, vulgar, low, humble, etc.

I was thinking maybe the phrase was


bēiwéi de xìng

humble surname

I talked to a few people today that can speak Mandarin and Cantonese and they did not know the of 鄙  ( Bǐ ) "humble" being used in this situation in either language.  They did tell me that younger people who speak either language are not comfortable with the old  "exalted - humble " name honorifics and just use "you" and "no need for politeness"  ( 不客气   bú kèqi  -  don't be polite in Mandarin   and    m4 sai2 haak3 hei3 in Cantonese ) or use some of the forms we saw in the video in order to not use the name honorifics.

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Comment by Thomas Doherty on July 18, 2014 at 3:44am

Putting   鄙  into CantoDict,  I see that one of the output items is almost what we want to logically understand the sentence   鄙姓劉。(  Bǐ xìng liú. )      (MY) Humble surnamed (is) Liu.

        pei2 yan4     bi3 ren2  =   I; myself [a self-deprecatory expression]

 人姓劉。   (  bǐrén  xìng  liú. )    =    I am humbly surnamed Liu.

 鄙姓劉。      (  bǐ xìng  liú. )     ------>  I am humbly surnamed Liu.     ( dropping  rén )

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Comment by Thomas Doherty on July 19, 2014 at 3:37am

This video by Becky also has a good coverage of the using xing and name introductions:

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Comment by Thomas Doherty on July 19, 2014 at 9:39am

Becky's video on introductions above has a second part:    

Comment by Karl Kauffman on July 20, 2014 at 10:12pm
Thank you for all of your research, Thomas. I was thinking of one of my early lessons in my old "Speak Mandarin" text, (Yale Univ. Press) which was in Yale Pinyin. The text was: Ni gwei sying? Bi sying Lyou. When I went to Taiwan, only older people used Gwei sying (貴姓) or bi sying (鄙姓) to be polite, but younger Taiwanese only used in to be polite to elders, and thought it to be rather old fashioned. The 鄙姓 form has probably fallen out of fashion these days, and in the Mainland has been replaced with 免貴姓.


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